US brewery MillerCoors has agreed a multi-year deal with Churchill Downs Racetrack for its Blue Moon brand to become the official craft beer of horseracing showpiece the Kentucky Derby.
Blue Moon will also become the first-ever craft beer sponsor of Churchill Downs. It will hold exclusive craft beer sponsorship rights year-round at the racetrack, including for the Kentucky Derby, which this year is scheduled for May 4.
As part of the sponsorship, Churchill Downs will develop and open the Blue Moon Taproom & Balcony, a new bar that will overlook the racetrack’s historic paddock and be open during live racing.
Blue Moon also will be the title sponsor of Churchill Downs’ Twilight Thursday racing series, a happy hour event held each week during the track’s spring and September race meets that features live racing, music and specialty food and drink. On Derby Day, the brand will host fans in a branded pop-up venue located in Churchill Downs’ infield.
“The Kentucky Derby is one of the premier events in sports and entertainment, and it has a certain culture around it — an elevated premium brand and experience that we feel is a perfect tie to what Blue Moon is all about,” Sean Robberson, senior brand manager for Blue Moon, said.
“This not only gives us a presence in the most-renowned racing venue in the country, but it’s our first real foray into a large, national-scale event. This sponsorship is a big deal for Blue Moon as we seek to maintain our leadership in the craft space.”
The Kentucky Derby is the most-watched horse race in the United States with more than 160,000 attendees and 19 million television viewers. Derby celebrations take place across the country, which Robberson says grants Blue Moon wider opportunities.
“The Derby is a bucket list item for people, but not everyone is able to attend, especially not every year,” Robberson added. “So, more and more, we’re seeing people start to replicate the Derby experience in bars and restaurants, as well as at parties thrown in their homes.”
Supported by a national social and digital media campaign and out-of-home advertising, Blue Moon will make available a suite of cross-branded glassware and retail point-of-sale marketing materials, as well as Blue Moon-branded accessories, such as bowties, pocket squares, scarves, seersucker vests and a fascinator, the signature millinery of the Derby.